|Like a river : a Civil War novel|
Author: Wiechman, Kathy Cannon
Leander and Polly are two teenage Union soldiers who carry deep, dangerous secrets, and their story transports readers to the homes, waterways, camps, hospitals, and prisons of the Civil-War era.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 172586
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 65734
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2015 Gr 5–8—Three years have passed since the beginning of the Civil War, when two underage teens, West Virginian Paul Settles and Ohioan Leander Jordan, both with secrets to guard, enlist in the Union Army. Their paths cross in a military hospital, where their mysteries begin to unravel, but the plot takes them in separate directions. Wiechman's debut novel details the pecking order of the Army camps, the grim hospitals, and survival in the prison. The plot is presented in short chapters, with an array of compassionate characters. American waterways comprise settings, as well as the motif for the theme of change: ("'Like a river,' Polly said. 'My pap al'ys said folks is like rivers, ever a-changin' and ever a-changin' others.'") The rich language and artful imagery will stay with readers long after finishing the last page. Well-researched details of Andersonville Prison and the Sultana Explosion are supported by an author's note with photos and a bibliography. This joins other great middle grade novels about the Civil War including Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulson (Delacorte, 1998), The Mostly True Adventure of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick (Scholastic, 2009), and the YA novel A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds by Marissa Moss (Abrams, 2012). A truly excellent first purchase for all fans of historical fiction who enjoy a hint of romance.—Sharon M. Lawler, formerly of Randolph Elementary, Randolph AFB, TX - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2015 Leander Jordan wants to be seen as a man by his family and the girl he loves, but he never feels he can measure up. In order to prove himself, he joins the Union army. After an accident lands him in the hospital, he meets Paul Settles, a young soldier with a big secret to keep. Eventually Paul rejoins the fighting, only to be captured and sent to an army prison. While the novel starts out as Leander’s story, the majority of the book centers on Paul’s tale of survival. Though the characters’ paths intertwine, the two story lines are disconnected at times. Wiechman doesn’t shy away from the gory and horrific details of war, so be sure to give this to readers who can handle the grim and grisly. The novel explores many aspects of the Civil War that are sure to be intriguing to readers, such as survival in Camp Sumter and the tragedy of the Sultana. An extensive author’s note with historic photographs and a bibliography provide additional details. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2015 After his older brother’s accident leaves him paralyzed, Leander Jordan carries the brunt of the farm labor; tired of the extra work and endless criticism, he lies about his age and reports for muster to fight the Rebs with his brother’s friend, Given. His negligence in caring for his own rifle results in loss of his arm during a minor skirmish, and while recuperating in a makeshift hospital in Georgia, he meets ÒPaulÓ Settles, whom he discovers to be really a girl, and who has followed her father into battle. Before Leander and Paul can admit their mutual attraction, Leander is shipped home and Paul, now fatherless, joins an Indiana company and leaves without a goodbye. With Leander offstage in Ohio, the story turns to Paul/Polly, who is apprehended with a foraging party by Rebel troops and sent to the prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Despite her resourcefulness, it’s the friendship of fellow prisoner Given that ultimately keeps her safe and sustains her will to live-and offers the possibility of again encountering Leander. Although details of Leander’s and Polly’s experiences are well researched and convincing, the orchestration of their separate journeys to converge in a happy ending puts this squarely in the realm of romance. Readers who read between the lines will surely wonder what happened to Given’s quest to help a pair of Southern women rebuild their farm, or how Leander fares working his father’s farm with one arm, but those who put their faith in fairy-tale endings may be satisfied with the sweethearts’ reunion. Historical notes and photographs are included. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.